CAMPAIGN: 30 Days Wild, various locations, 1-30 June
We’ve all heard of Random Acts of Kindness, but how about Random Acts of Wildness? This month-long initiative from the Wildlife Trust enourages us all to do something a little bit wild every day in June. Don’t worry – they’re not trying to turn us all into a bunch of unwashed tree huggers, just do our bit for the environment – plus getting back to nature and spending time outdoors can do wonders for your wellbeing too, so it’s not entirely selfless! You can do anything from the smallest action, such as stopping to smell a flower, to making more impactful choices like going plastic-free for a month. Sign up to receive a special pack with a calendar and booklet of ideas to get you started (hey, why not rope the whole family in?!) There’s even an app which delivers a Random Act of Wildness to your phone every day (no excuses!) Head over the border to Trumpington Meadows in Cambridge on 16th for the Big Wild Weekend – a celebration of pollination with arts, crafts, food and drink – you can even dress up in something stripy to keep your buzzy friends company! Go wild!
THEATRE: Bicycles and Fish, Old Town Hall, Hemel Hempstead, 4 June
This bold and award-winning debut show written and performed by Katie Arnstein (who’s been likened to Victoria Wood) is a coming-of-age tale, combining comedy, story-telling and orginal songs about how she learned to stand up for herself and win at life (do tell, Katie!). It’s got a serious feminist take-home, but sounds like it’ll be served up with a refreshing dose of irony – just how we like it!
EXHIBITION: Lois Walpole: Weaving Ghosts, Broadway Studio + Gallery, Letchworth, until 8 Sept
This expert basketry artist has created her exhibition of beautiful vessels from ghost gear – nope, I didn’t know what it was either! – the ropes, nets and plastic debris which gets left in the sea from commercial fishing. She tells a lovely story about how her grandfather, a fisherman on the Shetland Islands, crafted his own ropes and baskets from the natural materials he found near his home, and brings this family history full circle by turning the manmade materials, which are polluting our seas, into beautiful objects using ancient and almost forgotten weaving techniques. Sound intriguing and thought-provoking.
MUSIC: Ukelele Orchestra of Great Britain, The Alban Arena, St Albans, 6 June
Don’t knock these little ‘bonsai guitars’, they can sure strum out a tune. And these guys are the real deal – they’ve been credited with creating ukelele mania and have performed with some of the biggest names in the biz, from Clean Bandit to Cat Stevens and for The Ministry of Sound and, err… Blue Peter! Book your tickets now and you’ll be in for a toe-tapping, head-bopping, string-plucking evening of pure musical joy.
ART: Bucks Arts Weeks, various locations, 8-23 June
This annual showcase of the creative work of local contemporary artists and makers, includes pop-up galleries, exhibitions and open studios. Ok, it might be called Bucks Art Weeks, but some events have snuck in around Herts and Beds too! From oil painting and glass art at Woburn Gallery to photography, textiles, sculpture, glass and ceramics at College Lake in Tring, there are all types and styles of work to explore – you might even be tempted to invest in a locally made piece or two yourself?
CARNIVAL: Harpenden Carnival, Harpenden Common, 8 June
This annual fiesta promises to be as big as ever this year, with the usual dog show, craft stalls, inflatables, children’s activities and food stalls, to raise money for local charities. The theme for 2019 is Get Active, so we’re expecting lots of fitness-related fun, too. This year’s chosen charity is the Playpark Action Rothamsted Committee and the funds will go towards re-furbishing a children’s play area.
ANTIQUES: Teddy Bear Festival, Woburn Abbey, 9 June
Got an old stuffed toy or two knocking around in the attic? Bring it along to the Sculpture Gallery at Woburn Abbey to get it valued by an expert (small charge applies) – you never know, it might be worth some dosh! There’ll also be loads of teddy experts (yep, apparently that is a thing!) showing off their collections of rare and famous bears, as well as stalls selling modern ones – perhaps they’ll become future classics?
KIDS: The Very Hungry Catepillar Show, Watford Palace Theatre, 11-12 June
Can you believe it’s 50 years since Eric Carle’s classic kid’s story was published?! It’s been a hit with multiple generations since and sold over 43 million copies! Carle’s colourful and iconic collages have now been brought to life on stage in a critically acclaimed production, featuring 75 puppet characters from The Very Hungry Catepillar and three more more of Carle’s stories (Brown Bear, Brown Bear; 10 Little Rubber Ducks; The Very Lonely Firefly). It’s now on tour around the UK, calling at Watford this month. Catch it while you can!
MUSIC: What’s Love Got To Do With It?, Alban Arena, St Albans, 11 June
If belting out a Tina Tuner hit into a hairbrush is a bit of a guilty pleasure, get yourself to this gig. It’s produced by the people behind Whitney – Queen of the Night and also stars Elesha Paul Morris as the lead songstress (you might have seen her on X Factor and The Voice, too). Expect all the classics to come out on this evening dedicated to the 50-year career of the first lady of Rock ‘n’ Roll – it’s going to be Simply the Best (sorry…).
BOOKS: Adventures of the Yorkshire Shepherdess, with Amanda Owen, Chorleywood Memorial Hall, 12 June
Meet a real life superwoman (I mean, really…). Amanda Owen packed up her life in the city to become a shepherdess on a rural farm in the Yorkshire Dales and now tends a flock of a thousand sheep, as well as her own ‘flock’ of nine children (NINE – can you imagine?!) She’ll be talking about life on the farm, raising kids in the wilds of Yorkshire and becoming an author (I mean, when does this woman find the time?) of her new book Adventures of the Yorkshire Shepherdess.
COMEDY: Why Mummy Doesn’t Give a ****! An Evening With Gill Sims, Hertford Theatre, 13 June
You might not know her name, but chances are you’ll have come across her work, as the creator of the Facebook sensation, Peter and Jane. Her hilarious, often sweary and always brutally honest parenting anecdotes are a great antidote to all the smiley, perfect family posts that crop up in your feed, if you’re having a sense of humour bypass! She’ll be talking about her third book, Why Mummy Doesn’t Give a ****!, (the follow-up to her best sellers, Why Mummy Drinks and Why Mummy Swears), as well as doing readings and taking part in a Q&A and a book signing. Book a babysitter and get your belly laughs right here.
COMEDY: Rob Beckett: Work in Progress, Radlett Centre, Herts, 14 June
It’s the cheeky chappy of comedy – you’ll know him (and his toothy grin!) from shows like Mock the Week and and 8 Out of 10 Cats, but now you’re invited to come and be a guinea pig as he tries out some of his new material ahead of his UK tour Wallop! which kicks off later this year.
KIDS: Treasure Chest Tales, The Lodge Nature Reserve, Sandy, Beds, 15 June
Local company The Theatre of Widdershins bring their quaint and kooky storytelling style to the Yurt at the RSPB reserve in Sandy this month. Their Treasure Chest Tales are a collection of folk stories, fairy tales and myths designed to be performed to small audiences in unconventional spaces. It’s The Princess and The Pea this time – expect costume, puppetry and all the gusto of live theatre, but without the bells and whistles. Sounds magical!
FESTIVAL: Letchworth Festival, various locations, 15-30 June
This year marks the 10th anniversary of this celebration of the world’s first garden city. There’s a packed programme of arts, leisure, sports and social events put on by local groups and organisations, happening over two weeks, giving locals a chance to get stuck in and those visiting from further afield to find out what Letchworth is all about. There’ll be a display of children’s art (throughout), artists’ open studios (15-16 June), a vintage festival (29 June), the launch of letchworth’s brand new social history museum (mon-sat), fitness sessions and walks, special exhibitions, beer tastings, book signings, live music, theatre, film… you name it!
FAMILY: This Noisy Isle, The Higgins, Bedford, 22 June
This treasure-hunt style performance, loosely based on The Tempest, is part of The Place Bedford’s special programme of events for Refugee Week 2019. It takes 7-11 year olds (and their families) on an adventure after being washed up on the shore of a magical unknown world. This interactive show tackles the idea of belonging as you’ll be encouraged in your groups to make sense of this strange land – there’ll be puzzles to solve and mysterious characters to meet – and navigate the choppy seas to arrive home.
CINEMA: Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake, Watford Palace Theatre, 18 June
If you missed the multi award-winning show IRL, this is the next best thing… Matthew Bourne’s powerful re-telling of Tchaikovsky’s classic ballet promises to be equally as mesmerising on the big screen as it is on stage (well, almost!). Filmed live at London’s Sadler’s Wells with the convention-defying all-male ensemble (men in tights, you say?) this beautifully menacing, and thrilling performance is a must-see in whatever form you can catch it. Go!
HISTORY: St Albans Roman Festival, 21-30 June
Get your togas out for this celebration of the Roman history of St Albans, from the story of Britain’s first (Anglo-Roman) saint, to the fascinating ruins, which remain in the city today. Highlights include: Alban Fest on 22nd, a free afternoon of Roman-themed family activities like battle re-enactments and Roman pottery demonstrations; a Roman ‘feastival’ at the White Lion pub, with dishes like wild boar, venison and suckling pig; An outdoor screening of Gladiator on 26th; talks and tours about the city’s Roman ruins with the Verulamium Museum; Toga Yoga (no, we weren’t joking!) on 30th, plus loads more themed activities and events throughout.
WILDLIFE: Sunset Safari, ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, Dunstable, 22 June
Fancy going on a safari without leaving the comfort of your county…? For one night only you are invited to see what the animals get up to after dark at Whipsnade Zoo. Chill out with the penguins, admire the lions and see the tiger cubs playing in the twilight as the sun goes down. There’ll also be live music, street food stalls, behind-the-scenes tours and face painting.
GARDENING: Woburn Abbey Garden Show, 22-23 June
Anyone blessed with greenfingers won’t want to miss this – dubbed the ‘gardener’s garden show’, and you couldn’t ask for a much better backdrop than Woburn Abbey’s 42 acres of beautifully landscaped grounds. As well as the array of award-winning exhibitors and nurseries there’ll be talks, demos and Q&As hosted by horticultural gurus Pippa Greenwood and Adam Frost, a rare chance to take a peek at the Duke and Duchess of Bedford’s private gardens, an artisan food hall and live entertainment. Plus, new for this year there’ll be ‘The Good Life Connection’ arena, where you’ll find celeb chef Rachel Green cooking up a storm with homegrown produce, plus Agents of Field vloggers, Sophie and Ade, sharing their tips on making like Tom and Barbara in real life!
OPEN-AIR THEATRE: A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Knebworth House, 27 June
The Lord Chamberlain’s Men is an all-male open-air theatre company who perform at historical venues all over the UK and Europe. This month they’re bringing their current production, A Midsummer Night’s Dream (that play is just made to be performed outdoors, right?) to the Sunken Lawn at Knebworth House. Bring a picnic and something to sit on and settle in for a magical evening of Shakespearean comedy.
COMEDY: Shappi Khorsandi: Skittish Warrior… Confessions of a Club Comic, Hertford Theatre, 28 June
Stand-up, author and TV and radio regular, Shappi is known for her sharp-tongued wit and cutting cultural observations. We’re expecting to find them out in full force in her latest show, which promises to take us on a warts-and-all journey through her comedic life.
MUSICAL COMEDY: Grafitti Classics, Broadway, Letchworth, 29 June
If you think you’re not into classical music, try this… Here’s a string quartet that’s breaking all the boundaries and re-writing the rulebooks. Their all-singing, all-dancing performance is described as a classical concert, gypsy-folk romp, opera, stand-up comedy and a dance show all rolled into one. Sounds like a hilariously enegetic evening of entertainment that will win the whole family over.
FESTIVAL: Chilterns Live, Pendley Meadow, Tring, Sat 29 June
Oooh, new and shiny! There’s a brand new festival near our ‘hood! Chilterns Live will be popping up in Tring with a stellar pop line-up of Busted (this got a few squeals in Muddy HQ), Sophie Ellis Bextor and The Feeling.
COMEDY: The Tringe Festival, Court Theatre, Tring, 30 June – 20 July
If you’ve passed through Tring lately, you might have spotted some strangely familiar portraits popping in in the windows of the high street shops… it’s all to do with the Tringe (Tring Fringe – geddit?). The theme for this year’s three-week-long comedy festival is ‘The Art of Comedy’ (ahh, that’ll explain the slightly creepy portraits then!). For a little town it’s attracted some of the biggest names on the comedy circuit and this – it’s 10th year running – is no exception. Milton Jones, Romesh Ranganathan, Ed Byrne, Josie Long, Zoe Lyons and Reginald D Hunter are amongst the top acts, but get in quick, tickets don’t hang around for long!